Two Women appointed as Sharia Judges in Malaysia

Quantra Magazine

Women's groups, includingSisters in Islam (SIS), the group I belong to, hailed the appointment of Rafidah Abdul Razak und Surayah Ramlee as female judges to Islamic courts as a long awaited move given the many problems that women face in the so-called Syariah Courts, especially in matters related to the family. 

Long an advocate for justice and equality for Muslim women, SIS has been calling for female appointments since at least 1999. 

Two kinds of court systems

Malaysia's civil laws are under the province of the federal government. But the federal constitution gives its 13 states jurisdiction over two areas: land and laws governing "persons professing the Islamic faith", which involve family matters such as marriages, divorce, custody and inheritance. Syariah Courts have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims and matters related to Islamic practices are not heard in the civil courts.

The government has talked about reforming the court system for some time, and though the appointment of women to the Syariah Courts was made only last month, the actual decision to appoint female judges was made in 2006. Though these two judges practice in the federal-level Syariah Courts, this is an important move as their appointments set an example for Syariah Courts to follow at the state-level...

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